Monday, June 03, 2024

2024.06.03 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 15:17–22

Read Romans 15:17–22

Questions from the Scripture text: What does the apostle have reason to do (Romans 15:17)? In Whom? In what things? What won’t he dare to do (Romans 15:18)? Of what things won’t he speak? Who has done the accomplishing? Whom has He used to do it? What has He used to do it? What has He done (cf. Romans 1:5; Romans 10:16; Romans 16:19; Romans 16:26; 2 Thessalonians 1:8)? With what has Christ attended Paul’s preaching (Romans 15:19)? By what power? What has the apostle done, in this way, and where? What has he aimed to do (Romans 15:20)? Avoiding what places? To avoid doing what work? What has he followed in this method (Romans 15:21)? Who must be told the gospel (cf. Isaiah 52:15)?What has all of this work kept him from doing so far (Romans 15:22)?

How is the apostle’s boasting proper? Romans 15:17–22 prepares us for the sermon in the midweek prayer meeting. In these six verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that proper boasting rejoices over Christ, worships Him, and looks for more of His glorious grace.

The propriety and necessity of proper boasting. As the apostle prepares to come to them (Romans 15:22) to fulfill a debt to God and to them to preach the gospel to them (cf. Romans 1:13–15), he is boasting of Christ’s work through him (Romans 15:17, NKJ “glory”). In fact, he puts it pretty strongly: “I have a boast in Christ Jesus.” Indeed, he has this boast even “in the things which are toward God”! He is full-to-bursting with the goodness of what the Lord has done through him, and he wishes to share it with the church at Rome. He desires that they would be eager for his coming there, just as he is eager to go there. If the greatness of what Christ is doing grips their hearts, they will be eager for the apostle to come (v23) and even to participate in his further mission to Spain (Romans 15:24).

The humility of proper boasting. Now, for those who desire to get others excited about what the Lord is doing through them, the apostle sets an example of exactly that wording. Note that he doesn’t even say, “what I have accomplished through Christ” but “what Christ has accomplished” (Romans 15:18). He gives Christ the credit for his words (“in word”). He gives Christ the credit for his actions (“in works, ”NKJ “deed”). And he gives Christ the credit for the outcome: “to make the Gentiles obedient.”

In the book of Romans, this has been a way of describing a right response to the gospel. It does include the obedience that proceeds from faith, but it is especially that right response of believing, when we hear the gospel preached. So it includes everything from coming to faith in the first place all the way to being perfected in faith at the conclusion of our life in this world. cf. Romans 1:5; Romans 10:16; Romans 16:19; Romans 16:26; 2 Thessalonians 1:8. It is Christ Who is using Paul in this work that Christ does, which is by faith from start to finish (cf. Romans 1:17).

This is how we know that the work will be finished! If the boasting credited the instrument at all, then “past performance would not be indicative of future results.” But because the boasting credits only and entirely Christ, that’s exactly what the apostle is doing by this boasting: stirring them up to expect, desire, and pursue “future results” when the apostle visits Rome!

The worship of proper boastingRomans 15:19-22. Even having credited Christ already in Romans 15:18Romans 15:19 takes it a step further: “in mighty signs and wonders.” Some of these are recorded for us in Acts. The apostolic gifts of signs and wonders authenticated him as an apostle precisely because it was “God who testified” through them (cf. Hebrews 2:4). The same Spirit Whose mighty power is the only way that we come to abound in hope (cf. Romans 15:13) is the One Who was attesting His own work in the apostle’s ministry. What sure prospects they had of coming into more of that hope, when the apostle came and ministered!

But the great glory of this was that the apostolic ministry is actually the personal ministry of Christ Himself. The apostle’s approach to his ministry plans (Romans 15:20) were built off of Isaiah 52:15 (Romans 15:21)—a text that was truly all about Christ. There, it is the One Who sprinkles many nations Who would do so by His preaching (cf. Romans 10:14; Ephesians 2:17, Ephesians 3:20–21; Hebrews 12:25)! Paul’s “boasting” is worship, not bragging. The Servant, the God-Man of Isaiah 52:15, Who shed His blood for us, is the One Who is at work in the ministry!

What has Christ done in you? Whom else is Christ using for your good? How are you responding to Him?

Sample prayer: Lord Jesus, we glory in You. Thank You for what You have accomplished through us, and what You accomplish for us through others. Thank You for giving Your almighty Spirit to do the work of making us obedient to the faith and abounding with hope. As You continue Your work in the church, bring to Yourself the glory that is Yours for sprinkling many nations, we ask in Your own Name, Lord Jesus, Amen!

Suggested songs: ARP117B“O, All You Nations of the Earth” or TPH424“All Authority and Power”

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